• New virtual reality capability enables employers, EBCs and trustees to experience the challenges faced by vulnerable customers first hand
  • The addition of VR is just one of the many ways the Lab is facilitating collaborative client interactions and demonstration of proposition development

Standard Life, part of Phoenix Group, is applying cutting edge technology at its Edinburgh Innovation Lab. The Lab is a dedicated space within its operational base at Standard Life House in Edinburgh and is being used to identify pressing customer challenges and showcase and collaborate on proposition development with workplace clients.

The latest addition to the Innovation Lab is an immersive VR experience that puts clients directly in front of a vulnerable customer. When they put the headset on, on one side viewers can see someone in their kitchen, with documents spread across the table. On the other side they can see a member of the Standard Life customer services team in Standard Life House. A conversation then plays out that fully replicates a recent conversation with a Standard Life customer, with the customer at one point breaking down in tears due to her struggles with depression and resulting inability to manage her finances. After the customer call, there is a discussion around issues of vulnerability and the support on offer.

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) research published earlier this year found that in May 2022 47% of UK adults showed 1 or more characteristics of vulnerability, highlighting the importance of engaging with the breadth of these characteristics and adapting propositions to include those impacted1.

The VR capability complements an existing suite of technology aimed at helping clients walk in the shoes of vulnerable customers, including gloves simulating the experience of arthritis and glasses showing various visual impairments.

In addition, Standard Life's workplace pension team are using the Innovation Lab to showcase broader proposition development, with a dedicated team on site who run interactive sessions with workplace clients to show them the latest aspects of the Standard Life digital customer experience. This includes customer journeys and features of the app, as well as investment strategies and support for customers.

Emphasising the theme of collaboration, the Innovation Lab is also the home of Phoenix Group's Innovation Forum, in collaboration with strategic partners FinTech Scotland and the TCS COIN network. The Innovation Forum invites enterprises and entrepreneurs, through FinTech networks, to pitch their solutions on using technology to address wider challenges around member vulnerability- including digital literacy and financial inclusion. The first winner was Behavioural Finance, which uses psychometric testing to enable users to see how their personality will affect their relationship with money. They will now work with Standard Life and colleagues across the sider Phoenix Group to further develop their concept.

Clare Moodie, Head of Innovation Lab at Standard Life, said: "The current scale of customer vulnerability is unprecedented, and we are using our technology to bring the issues that face savers to life for our workplace clients, which is so much more powerful than quoting statistics from a page or even talking about them in a presentation. The more we, as an industry, engage with characteristics of vulnerability and really understand diverse and complex needs the more success we will have with innovating our propositions to make them relevant for all."

Gail Izat, Standard Life Workplace Director, said: "I am proud to have been a part of the rollout of our Innovation Lab and it has proved incredibly popular with our clients. Workplace is a key driver for our business, and we have a clear strategy focussed on member engagement, digital innovation and financial wellness. For me our Innovation Lab exists as a representation of all three. The immersive experience offered in person or virtually at the Lab sets the tone for ongoing communications with members. Particularly in the current climate, it's so important that we find new and innovative ways to engage with members and provide support and information that has meaning and relevance at key and critical financial moments in life."



Sarah Muir
07870 537937

Darragh Leeson
Standard Life
07707 270001

Notes to Editors

1 Financial Lives 2022 survey: insights on vulnerability and financial resilience relevant to the rising cost of living | FCA

About Standard Life

  • Standard Life is a brand that has been trusted to look after peoples' life savings for nearly 200 years
  • Today it proudly serves millions of customers who come to Standard Life directly, through advisers and through their employers' pension scheme.
  • Standard Life is part of the Phoenix Group, the largest long-term savings and retirement business in the UK. We're proud to be building on nearly 200 years of Standard Life heritage together
  • Our products include a variety of Pensions, Bonds and Retirement options to suit people's needs, helping our customers to invest and save for their future. We're proud to offer a leading range of sustainable and responsible investment options.
  • We support our customers on their journey to and through retirement with comprehensive, easy-to-understand guidance so they can invest in the right way for their needs, and plan a future they feel confident about.
  • The value of investments can go down as well as up, and may be worth less than originally invested.

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